An Egyptian-born activist was arrested yesterday for spray-painting subway billboards that call enemies of Israel “savages” – amid a wave of vandalism unleashed on the inflammatory ads, which have divided the city.
Mona Eltahawy, a self-described “liberal Muslim,” strolled up to one of the signs at the crowded 1/2/3 train mezzanine at the Times Square station and sprayed pink paint on the ads.
Straphangers stopped and watched Eltahawy – in a bright pink coat just a few shades darker than the paint – in amazement.
But Pamela Hall, a Manhattan mom who supports the message of the ads, was so infuriated, she rushed to stop Eltahawy .
“Do you have a right to do this?” demanded Hall – an ally of Pamela Geller, leader of a pro-Israel group behind the posters.
“I do actually,” said a sedate Eltahawy, 45, who has appeared on MSNBC and CNN. “I think this is freedom of expression, just as this [the ad] is freedom of expression.”
Hall tried to physically block Eltahawy, bobbing back and forth like a basketball forward while the angered activist shot bursts of paint around her.
“If you don’t want paint, you should get out of my way,” Eltahawy said before spraying Hall.
Hall then poked Eltahawy with her video camera stick.
That infuriated Eltahawy, who blurted out, “F–k you!”
Eltahawy seemed stunned when an NYPD officer and an MTA cop arrived momentarily after and put cuffs on her.
“This is what happens when you nonviolently protest in America!” she yelled.
“That’s true,” said someone in the crowd, prompting a burst of laughter from onlookers.
She was charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti and possession of a graffiti instrument, and held overnight.
“Anybody who murders people coming from church or sleeping in their bed is a savage,” Hall said.
Eltahawy’s arrest capped a day of widespread vandalism targeting the controversial ads.
Just before going on the Times Square mission, Eltahawy tweeted: “Meetings done; pink spray paint time. #ProudSavage.”
Signs in seven of the 10 stations where the ads have been posted were defaced, according to the blog Mondoweiss.net.
At the 23rd Street C/E station, someone stamped the word “racist” over the text, and at 28th Street on the 6, someone placed a stamp that read, “Hate speech.”
Source: The NY Post